As I have done for the past 13 years, I am asking for a list (anywhere from one to as many as six) of books you’ve most enjoyed reading in 2022.
There is no definition to the kind of book which you might add to this list. They can be fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, short stories, science, poetry, mystery, romance, hobbies, children’s books, etc. I’m most interested in what you truly enjoyed this past year (old or new books) with the thought that others might get some ideas for their reading in 2023.
Even if you think others may recommend a particular book that you liked, please include it on your list. Some of you like to know that more than one or two MillersTime readers have enjoyed a given title.
Also, if you want to include any of the books you cited from the March 30, 2022 or July 17, 2022, feel free to do so. You can review what you sent in here:
Send me your list (Samesty84@gmail.com) with the title, author and whether the book is fiction (F) or non-fiction (NF).
Please take the time to include a few sentences about the book and particularly what made this book(s) so enjoyable for you.For many of the contributors and readers of this annual list, it is the comments that are what’s most important about MillersTime Favorite Reads each year.
Send your list by December 20. Then I can post the results on Dec. 31, 2022.
Following our time in Jordan, the second part of our recent trip was focused on Cappadocia, in Central Turkey, also a place we had long wanted to visit.
Over the past decade or so, as we considered this trip, we must have seen hundreds of photographs of the strange formations which make up this magical area. Often, when that happens, the traveler is disappointed with the reality, for how can the beautiful images match the reality of what you’ll see and how you will experience it? We are happy to report that in this case we were not disappointed. Cappadocia is even more impressive than its pictures, even Ellen’s!
Kapadoky (its Turkish name) was designated in 1985 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, primarily for its dramatic landscapes, underground cities, cave churches, and houses carved in the rocks.
It’s a semi-desert region dating back as far as the Bronze age and known for its tall, cone-shaped, rock formations (“fairy chimneys”) and for its cave dwellers (“troglodytes”). It later became used as refuges by Christians.
The soft volcanic rock was shaped by erosion into towers, cones, valleys, and caves and was used throughout history (think Byzantine, Roman and Islamic eras) by inhabitants who built rock cut churches, underground tunnels, and ‘cities’. Wind erosion created exotic shapes out of the sandstone, each area different — strange, weird, mesmerizing. Ellen’s camera never stopped clicking.
We went to Cappadocia largely for its stunning landscapes and natural wonders, but we learned so much about ancient religious history. We flew from Istanbul to Kayseri and drove to the small town of Uchisar. We stayed four nights at the wonderful Museum Hotel (partially built into the caves) with its unique rooms and panoramic views of various valley and sites.
The photographs you see below and in the slide show are from the Devrent, Pasabag, Pigeon, and Zelve Valleys and the underground city of Kaymakli, the Goreme Open Air Museum, the ancient city of Sobesos, and Ortahisar.
Certainly one of the highlights was the hot air balloon flight as we floated over Cappadocia’s unforgettable landscapes. We rose at 5 AM and took our place in that tiny but tall basket below a very large hot air balloon. We rose into the air as the sun was breaking over the mountain tops around us. To say this was spectacular would be an understatement. At one point, there were well over 100 hot air balloons in the air at the same time, creating a unique sight itself. Fortunately, none of them crashed that day.
Our time in Cappadocia, along with the first part of the trip (see Thru Ellen’s Lens: Petra & Wadi Rum), certainly ranks in the top tier of our continuing explorations of the world.
As always, we recommend you view all the photos in the largest size possible (use a laptop or desktop computer). They are much sharper and much more detail than the ones above or if you only look at the opening page of the slide show.
Ellen and I recently returned from a 10-day trip to Petra (Jordan) and Cappadocia (Turkey). For many years we had wanted to visit these two treasures of civilization. Having to postpone the trip twice because of COVID restrictions, we were finally able to make this long desired trip in October.
We have divided Ellen’s photos and some brief notes about these trips into two posts, starting with our journey to and through Jordan. (The second post will appear in a week or two, focusing on Cappadocia.)
We met our wonderful guide, Riyad Shishani, who stayed with us for our five days in Jordan and proved to us once again the importance of having the right person to introduce us to and teach us about the treasures and stories of his country:
We began our trip with a drive north from Amman to the hills of Gilead and the Greco-Roman city of Jerash, an extensive area of archeological remains (Neolithic, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Umayad) where we spent a half day exploring this vast site:
Riyad then took us back to Amman where he introduced us to its Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic remains (The Citadel, The Roman Theater, The Forum) and the wonderful views over the city. We also wandered in the old part of Amman and wished we had more time to explore the markets, restaurants, and crafts there:
Our knowledgeable driver, Nabil Hamo, drove us south to Dana, Jordan’s largest nature reserve (think 200 square miles of spectacular mountains and wadis on the edge of the Great Rift Valley) and then on to Wadi Rum (Valley of the Moon). One of the two highlights of this part of our trip, we explored this desert landscape by four-wheel jeep, a four-hour, five-mile hike through the sand dunes, canyons, and sandstone mountains, and an overnight stay at the Aicha Camp. (Ask Ellen some time about locking us out of our luxurious domed ‘tent’ at 4:45 AM.):
Heading back north through more stark landscape, we stopped at Little Petra, a site that dates back to the first century and may have served as a ‘suburb’ to the larger city of Petra. Smaller and less crowded than Petra itself, Little Petra’s buildings are carved into the walls of the sandstone canyons and gave us a taste of what we were to experience over the next two days.
Petra itself covers an area of 100 square miles. It was carved into and out of rocks and canyons between 800 BC and 100 AD. It was an important city in its day as it served as a stopping point along a major caravan route. Until an earthquake in the 4th century destroyed much of the city, it thrived as the capital of the Nabataean Empire with its temples, theaters, tombs, and extensive water system. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World (2007).
For us, the 1.2 km long, narrow gorge (The Siq), leading into the city and The Treasury, was the highlight of Petra. We walked in an out of this dramatic entryway twice, once by day and once by candlelight. That walk will be forever in our memory.
We ended our road trip in Jordan with a brief stop at Mount Nebo, the biblical site where Moses was said to have viewed, but was not able to enter, the Holy Land. Despite some cloudy weather, we were able to see Jordan, the Dead Sea, and Israel.
The trip was fascinating on many levels: its ancient historical backdrop; the landscapes of the gorgeous red desert of Wadi Rum; the passageway into ancient Petra (and walking there after dark by candlelight); the delightful and knowledgeable guide; the adorable group of school girls picnicking (who insisted on phone pictures) as we walked in the Dana Reserve; learning how to open and eat a pomegranate just plucked from a tree by a local guide; and the general good will we felt as tourists. As always, we took a cooking class, and enjoyed the local cuisine, largely for its delicious hummus, pita bread, baba ganoush, and many variations of salads.
See all the photos in the largest size possible (use a laptop or desktop computer if you have access to either). They are much sharper, and the larger format presents them in much more detail than the ones above, or if you only look at the opening page of the slide show.
On August 30th, I unequivocally, but sadly, wrote that after 18 years as a full season ticket holder of the Washington Nationals, I had terminated my annual contract with the team and its owners.
Primarily, I was fed up with the Nats’ model of getting good young players and then abandoning them when they reached free agency, which, among other things, is unfair to the fans. Getting attached to players only to have them go elsewhere maybe understandable (players have every right to determine their value, and the owners have their right to their business model). But as I came of age in a time when a fan could count on their favorite player being with their favorite team year after year, I found it hard to adjust to this new reality. And so I decided I wanted to withdraw my financial support of both the owners and players.
There were also other reasons I gave up the tickets. All my season ticket partners for the 81 home games had, for a variety of reasons, gradually dropped out of the partnership, and the tickets and parking therefore had become extremely expensive. Watching the Nats go 55-107 was another reason I was unhappy with the Nats and their ownership, even for this Red Sox fan who has endured many, many years of disappointment. While I still cared about baseball, it seemed I could choose to go to a few games a year and continue to ‘register’ my protest as a fan about being part of a system that rewarded the owners and the players to care more about the money than the game.
Then, over the last month or so of the season, I attended five or six games and found that despite all the reasons listed above, I still loved being at the ballpark, watching baseball, and always looking for something I had never previously witnessed (e.g., one umpire being overridden on three consecutive missed calls at first). Above all, I enjoyed being with family and friends for an afternoon or evening of baseball and companionship.
So, while I had terminated my full season three seats and parking, and with some encouragement from Cassie Bullis, my young Nats’ account executive, I decided to return as a partial season ticket holder (two seats, 41 games, and parking). I won’t have total choice of every game I want to see, but I can swap tickets for a particular game(s). The Red Sox, for instance, are here for three games in August and only one of those is on my 2023 Plan B.
If any of you have interest in being a partner for at least five games, let me know, and we can discuss which games, costs, etc.
And I will continue to invite various family and friends to join me and so urge you to let me know if you want to attend a game together. (Added Note: if you don’t live in DC but will find yourself coming to our ‘swamp’ sometime in the next year, consider checking with me about seeing a game, either together or with a friend.)
I will also continue to pass on some tickets to various charities and friends at no cost.
Baseball will remain a part of my life even while I disapprove of many aspects of what it has become.
As the Duke of Brooklyn (Sean McLaughlin) has said, “with all its faults, it is still THE best sport.”
There were only two contests this year, and the questions required contestants to answer six questions in the first contest and five in the second. In both contests, it was difficult to declare an outright winner, but here’s what yours truly has decided:
Contest #1: Are you a ‘homer’ or do you really know your team?
If your name is NOT in the following list, consider yourself a ‘homer’:
Ed Scholl, Jesse Maniff, Matt Galati, Larry Longenecker, Brent Schultz, Nicholas Lamanna, Bill Bronwell, Zack Haile, Jim Kilby, Chris Ballard, Dawn Wilson, John Carlson.
Of these 12 who all avoided the ‘homer’ label, it was difficult to choose between the two best submissions.
Matt Galati said the Pirate’s record would be 60-102 (they were 62-100), would be last in their Division (they were), and wouldn’t make the playoffs (they obviously didn’t), and he attributed that to mismanagement, lack of offense, and a weak defense (all true).
Chris Ballard said the Astro’s record would be 97-65 (they were 106-56), said they’d win the AL West (they did), have a first round bye (true), would go to the World Series and win it (true). His eight reasons were detailed and amazingly on target.
And so Matt and Chris share the Winner title for Contest #1, and each will receive a copy of Joe Posnanski’s superb The Baseball 100.
Contest #2: Name the four teams in the LCS, what two teams will make it to the WS, how many games will the WS go, which team will win, and why.
No one shined in this Contest. Brent Schultz did pick the Phillies to make it to the LCS and the WS (where they would lose to the Twins). Pretty good.
Joe Higdon and Chris Ballard (the same guy from Contest #1) had the best overall answers, each getting one of four teams in the LCS, one of two teams in the WS, who would win it all, and pitching being the reason for the victory.
Joe wins as he picked the Astros in six, and his submission was early. Chris loses to Joe as he picked the Astros in seven and, as usual, was late in making his picks.
So Joe gets one ticket to the 2023 World Series.
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See you all again next year when MLB will have instituted some new rules in the hopes of making beisbol more fan friendly.